39. Quercus tomentella Engelmann, Trans. Acad. Sci. St. Louis. 3: 393. 1877.
Channel Island oak
Trees , to 20 m. Twigs branching at 45° angles, reddish brown, 3-4 mm diam., somewhat rigid, densely tomentose, persistent into 2d year. Terminal buds conic, 7-10 mm, scales brown with ciliate margins. Leaves: petiole 3-10 mm, rusty-villous, flattened adaxially. Leaf blade wavy or distinctly concave, oblong-lanceolate or elliptic, acuminate, (30-)70-10(-120) × 25-40 mm, leathery and brittle, base obtuse to cordate, secondary veins 8-10(-12) pairs, branching at 45-50° angles, strongly pinnate, raised abaxially, often sunken adaxially, margins often strongly revolute, with slightly thickened cell walls, entire or crenate to dentate with mucronate teeth, apex rounded or acute, mucronate; surfaces abaxially densely tomentose with whitish nonglandular hairs, midrib pilose, adaxially glossy dark green, sparsely pubescent. Acorns solitary or rarely paired; cup shallowly cup-shaped, 4-8 mm deep × 15-30 mm wide, scales laterally connate, appressed, deeply imbedded in tomentum, with only thin, brown, elongated apices visible, tuberculate, densely whitish brown tomentose throughout; nut ovoid, 20-30 × 15-20 mm, apex rounded.
Flowering in spring, occasionally in fall. Lower portions of steep canyons and occasionally ridge tops; 100-650 m; Calif.; Mexico (Baja California and on Guadalupe Island).
The insular endemic Quercus tomentella is a relict as evidenced by its widespread representation in mainland late Tertiary fossil floras. Hybridization with Q . chrysolepis is apparent on the Channel Islands: Santa Catalina, Santa Cruz, and possibly San Clemente and Anacapa. Putative hybrids have been observed in narrow zones of contact on the islands of Santa Cruz and Santa Catalina. On those islands, taxonomically distinct individuals of Q . chrysolepis occur at the highest elevations, whereas Q . tomentella generally is found in moist canyons at lower elevations. Populations of Channel Island oak are in decline because of overgrazing and poor seedling recruitment. The greatest number of populations occur on Santa Rosa Island, and those are taxonomically and genetically noteworthy because Q . chrysolepis apparently is absent from the island.